“But every time I sat down in my desk, my heart raced. I forgot the words, my sentences sounded wordy, unnecessary, ugly.” Our own Bruna Dantas Lobato writes about anxiety and writer’s block for Ploughshares. Pair with her Staff Pick for The Millions, Juan Goytisolo’s Count Julian.
New this week: 4321 by Paul Auster; The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker; Mr. Iyer Goes to War by Ryan Lobo; The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping by Aharon Appelfeld; and The Evenings by Gerard Reve. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
It’s funny and fitting that Madame Proust, in a letter now on display at the Morgan Library, implored her son to share persnickety details about what time he got up in the morning. Another thing the exhibition, which celebrates the hundredth anniversary of Swann's Way, reveals: early drafts of the book used “biscottes” in place of “madeleine.”
“For about 15 years, every time I had a really good dance party that went late, with people lolling around drunk and exhausted, at about 2 a.m., I would hand out paper and ask everyone to draw a vomiting cat. . . . I ended up with an incredibly thick file of drawings, some by people who went on to be published cartoonists and writers.” The New York Times reports that (Year in Reading alum) Jonathan Lethem has sold his papers to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, a trove that includes comic books, manuscript drafts, notes, letters, and yes, drawings of vomiting cats. You can read our review of Lethem's Dissident Gardens, which may or may not feature hairballs in a crucial plot point, here.